Windows 10 users can now say "Hey Alexa" without having to click on or tap anything. Amazon has now rolled out an update to the Alexa for Windows app that lets it listen for trigger words, allowing users to access its digital assistant hands-free.
The feature makes use of built-in and USB-connected mics, including those on webcams. Prior to this new update, hands-free triggering required a PC to be "acoustically tuned specifically for Alexa," and only a few of them were, including the Acer Spin 5, Acer Aspire 5, or HP Envy.
Hands-Free Alexa On Windows 10
"You can easily invoke Alexa regardless of whether the app is running in the foreground or background — all you need to do is ask," according to the app's latest release notes. "Customers can toggle between hands-free Alexa and a push-to-talk experience at any time."
The app will automatically update to the latest version once it's launched, according to Amazon. But users can kickstart the process manually by heading to the Windows Store page and downloading it directly.
Only select PCs came preinstalled with the Alexa app, but it became broadly available through the Windows Store shortly thereafter — in the United States, UK, and Germany, that is. As on Alexa-powered speakers and other smart devices, the assistant lets users control or trigger certain functions using voice commands. This iteration of Alexa features elements of Microsoft's Fluent design, as seen in its acrylic panels and compatibility with the system-wide Dark Mode.
Users can invoke Alexa whether or not the app is in the foreground. In essence, compatible Windows 10 PCs should start behaving similarly to an Echo speaker. As long as the user is within earshot of the microphones, they won't have to click, tap, or navigate through different windows just to check the weather or turn on their smart lights. They can just ask Alexa to do it without moving an inch.
Also included in the update is support for Pandora. Users of the music streaming app can now ask Alexa to queue up stations, play and pause songs, and skip tracks.
Alexa And Cortana Integration
These improvements come months after Microsoft and Amazon launched an Alexa-Cortana public preview for Echo speakers and Windows 10 PCs, as VentureBeat notes. AS part of the partnership, users can say, "Hey Cortana, open Alexa" to trigger the latter assistant, or "Alexa, open Cortana," to access Cortana on a range of Echo smart speakers.
The update is live now.